Matthew Duss

Matthew Duss is president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and a contributing writer for the Prospect. You can follow him on Twitter @mattduss.

Recent Articles

A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR ALL US PARENTS.

Given that Ann Coulter is, surprise, classless enough to use an obituary for her father as an opportunity to attack, in typically brutish fashion, her political enemies, I don't feel bad at all noting that my suspicions about her career as an insult comic serving as therapy for her deeply rooted parent issues have now been confirmed. All that is left is to pray that my own child never grows to love/hate me enough to turn my dead body into a bludgeon. --Matthew Duss

TODAY'S GO-TO VILLAINS.

Via Steve Clemons , a good short doc on Hollywood's vilification of Arabs. Among the many offensive images and representations in the program, the clip from Back to the Future is particularly ridiculous. The year was 1985, Muammar Khaddafi was being sold to us as the new Hitler , (this was several new Hitlers ago; since then we've had Saddam Hussein , Slobodan Milosevic , Osama bin Laden , Saddam Hussein again, with Mahmoud Ahmedinejad acting as the current new Hitler) and thus "Libyans" was offered as perfunctory shorthand for "villains." So as not to draw attention to themselves, the "Libyans" drive around wearing army fatigues and kaffiyehs . (You'll notice, or maybe you won't, that one of the clever "Libyans" is wearing a red-checked Jordanian kaffiyeh; is this intended as a disguise?) And then, of course, the "Libyans" are driving a VW bus, well known as preferred conveyance of your flag-burning, apple pie abjuring, third world liberation sympathizing hippie. And thus we have the...

ON MUQTADA GOING BACK TO SCHOOL.

Last month I briefly commented on reports that Muqtada al-Sadr has returned to his religious studies . This is a potentially significant enough development to merit a bit more. Contrary to reports like this one , Muqtada can't really "study to become an ayatollah," at least not in the way the story frames it. He can study to become a mujtahid , which means he is authorized to practice ijtihad , rational examination of the scriptures (coming from the same root as jihad , or struggle, in the sense that ijtihad is an intellectual struggle, the exertion of scholarly effort) and issue decisions, or fatwas , in response to questions posed by adherents. One achieves the rank of mujtahid through a fairly formalized course of study. To reach the rank of ayatollah, however, requires, in addition, a significant body of published scholarly work, a substantial following who recognize him as a marja al-taqlid ("source of emulation," a guide to correct Islamic practice), and, importantly,...

POPULISM FOR ME, FASCISM FOR THEE ...

Jesus' General shares this Jonah Goldberg gem from a recent NPR interview: Jonah Goldberg: The benefit of Bush’s compassionate conservatism [in 2000] was that it was majorly a marketing slogan… Alex Chadwick: You mean you’re worried Mike Huckabee might actually mean it? Goldberg: Yes, that’s what I’m terrified of. Sadly, No! interprets this in light of Goldberg's statement that "populism is a useful and healthy passion when aimed at the liberal elite." In other words: it’s cool to rile up the idiot vote by telling them that liberals want to ban Christmas, but helping them pay for their kids’ health care goes way, way over the line. Religion, in Jonah’s world, truly is the Cheetos bag of the masses. Indeed, this tracks pretty well with former White House official David Kuo 's experience , as described in his book Tempting Faith : Conservative elites openly scorn the working-class evangelicals whose fears they crassly manipulate in order to implement their pro-rich agenda. Meanwhile, on...

OF HICKS AND HOMELANDS.

Mike Huckabee , the candidate for transfer : When asked about a Palestinian state, Gov. Huckabee stated that he supports creating a Palestinian state, but believes that it should be formed outside of Israel. He named Egypt and Saudi Arabia as possible alternatives, noting that the Arabs have far more land than the Israelis and that it would only be fair for other Arab nations to give the Palestinians land for a state, rather than carving it out of the tiny Israeli state. Right, because it's not as if Palestinians have any connection to the land in which they've lived for generations. Git 'em up, move 'em on! You can imagine the response if a candidate were to suggest anything like this in regard to Israel: Abe Foxman 's tie would spin around, Commentary 's server would crash, and Marty Peretz would order James Kirchick to crush a paper cup. Also, that candidate's campaign would be over, and deservedly so. But this is America, and these are the Palestinians we're talking about, so...

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